Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek TOS, S02E03: “The Changeling”

The next episode is “Mirror, Mirror,” but I re-watched that last year and I’m not sure I want to watch it again. So I will probably skip it and watch “The Apple.” But “Mirror, Mirror” is a key episode to understanding the lore of Star Trek, much like Amok Time, so you probably shouldn’t skip it.

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PLOT SUMMARY: An intelligent super-powerful robot (which was once a space probe called NOMAD) on a mission to exterminate all “imperfect” biological life thinks that Kirk is its “creator.” Kirk is able to save the galaxy by using his logic jujitsu to talk the robot into committing suicide.

“The Changeling” is not a great episode. The first time Kirk talked a computer into committing suicide, it wasn’t very believable, and by now the trope is becoming very tiresome. But the one consistent theme in the Original Series about intelligent computers/robots is that they are really bad news. No good ever came from a machine that’s too intelligent. Which is a strangely luddite point of view for a series that otherwise extols the benefits of advanced technology to improve mankind. For this reason, I could never stand how The Next Generation kept trying to tell us that Data was to be considered a sentient being with the same rights as humans. If Kirk ever met a robot like Data, he would have talked it into committing suicide.

Four useless red-shirt security guards get themselves killed in this episode.

I love this exchange between Spock and the robot (NOMAD), after the robot scans Uhura’s mind:

NOMAD: That unit is defective. Its thinking is chaotic. Absorbing it unsettled me.

SPOCK: That unit is a woman.

NOMAD: A mass of conflicting impulses.

In the 1960s, Star Trek was considered ahead of its time because it features women as officers in a quasi-military organization. But by today’s understanding of things, Star Trek is misogynist.

But then, the really creepy part of this episode is that the robot wiped Uhura’s mind clean, erasing all of her memories. “The knowledge banks of this unit have been wiped clean,” says the Robot. But McCoy and Nurse Chapel set out to retrain her. Huh? It sounds to me like if her mind was wiped clean like that, she’s for all practical purposes dead, and the new Uhura after this episode is a different person than Uhura up to this point.

I rate this the worst episode, so far, the worst of Season 2, and perhaps one of the top 10 worst episodes of the original series. But still no where near as bad as The Alternative Factor.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 31, 2018 at 12:25 PM

Posted in Star Trek

8 Responses

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  1. This episode may have inspired the plot for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, one of the worst of the classic Trek movies.

    Oswald Spengler

    December 31, 2018 at 12:32 PM

  2. Chayanne’s music videos tend to end in a romantic twist.

    Justice Duvall

    December 31, 2018 at 1:28 PM

  3. Even as a kid, I never got the Uhura retraining thing. What about her personal memories? I assume that her memories simply returned with time.

    Mike Street Station

    January 1, 2019 at 7:23 AM

  4. But the one consistent theme in the Original Series about intelligent computers/robots is that they are really bad news.

    Also other alien species: how many encounters were adversarial vs. cooperative? 80%?

    Our instincts are to be suspicious of the stranger. Lately we’ve been trained to be suspicious of those who have any hint of right-wing politics.


    January 1, 2019 at 8:44 AM

    • The ceaseless mental conditioning works all too well for about half the country.

      Oswald Spengler

      January 1, 2019 at 4:25 PM

  5. FYI The Orville is back! Switch to talking about that 🙂


    January 1, 2019 at 3:53 PM

  6. Seems like they recycled this plot for The Motion Picture.


    January 3, 2019 at 8:46 AM

  7. […] This is also the second episode just this season where there’s a planet-destroying super-machine on the loose. Remember The Changeling? […]

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